Patent Office Puts XP in its Tech Blueprint

Software migration specialist Altiris said today it will convert 10,000 workstations at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to Microsoft Windows XP. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the deal, the Salt Lake City-based company will also provide inventory assessment and patch management for the entire agency.

With Altiris’ automated migration suite — which saves network settings and personal files while updating the operating system — the USPTO will upgrade 500 desktops a night. The shift from the older Windows systems should be done by the end of May.

For Microsoft , the USPTO’s XP upgrade is the kind of deal it will want to highlight as it continues to fend off challenges from open-source software makers who are eyeing the enterprise and government sectors.

Marc Miller, a spokesperson for the Redmond, Wash., software giant, said the federal government is one of Microsoft’s largest customers.

Recent reports suggested the software company was losing ground in the international market. Recently, the China Standard Software Company (a consortium of government-backed companies) signed a deal with Sun Microsystems to launch a nation-wide software migration to the Java Desktop System. China’s government is also
looking at investing more in open-source Linux operating systems.

Miller said international support for Microsoft products isn’t waning.

“Microsoft strongly believes that governments and users of technology should be free to use the software that best meets their needs,” he said. “We’ve found that customers and governments, who research and thoughtfully select Microsoft solutions, make that choice based on value, support and ease of use.”

John Tucker, Altiris regional sales manager for federal and civilian agencies, said it’s telling that a large organization like the USPTO is signing a large IT contract at this time.

With the federal budget being squeezed because of the war in Iraq, individual agencies are looking at ways to save money, Tucker told One of them is to hire migration services that have an eye towards life cycle management.

Just as important, the federal government is under pressure from Congress to improve the woeful status of its IT readiness. A report card issued by the Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations
and the Census in December gave federal agencies a an overall ‘D’

The Department of Commerce — the USPTO is part of this agency — received a ‘C-,’ a slight improvement from the a ‘D+’ it was given a year earlier.

The government is taking notice of these marks. Tucker said agencies ask for three essential components when they start talking about a contract: asset and patch management and migration. Spokespeople from the USPTO were not immediately available for comment.

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